Lent has begun, and we are spending these days simplifying our lives and looking inward—not becoming self-absorbed, but examining our own ideas, motivations, and approaches to faith. My hope is that you are taking some time, as well, this Lenten season to do the same as the march forward to Easter has begun.
Last week I talked to the wives , as did Paul in vv. 22-24. This week Paul is talking to the men, as well. When Paul talks about submission, he explains that he is asking us to model a heavenly relationship, one that we all, who believe in Christ, are a part of, that of Christ and the church. So, I suppose that, if I am going to expound on the husband’s part of the marriage relationship, I should first talk about how Christ loves the Church.
First of all, Paul is referring to the Church universal (the Apostles’ Creed uses the word catholic, which means the same thing), the union of every believer of every time, not the individual congregation or denomination. So how does Christ, the heavenly husband, care for the church?
He gave himself up for her. For many years I watched my father go to work in the steel mill, a dirty, dangerous job. He didn’t enjoy his work, but he did it to provide for our family. When I would cry as my father left for work, Mom would remind me, “Daddy needs to go to work to get money to buy baby new shoes!” Christ did go to work for the church at one time on a hillside called Golgotha, where he gave his life for us to purchase our redemption, that we might be cleansed from all sin and stain.
To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word. Jesus continues this work at the right hand of God where he intercedes for us (Romans 8:34), reminding God that we have been redeemed by Jesus’ own blood. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we are cleansed again and again as we come in Jesus’ name to God.
And to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle . . . . Jesus has a goal in this relationship, that one day we will be united at the wedding feast. This is the time when the bride is preparing herself for that great day when Jesus Christ will return for his church. It is a long-term relationship!
So, husbands, how do you love your wives? Paul suggests that you take your cues from Jesus’ relationship with the church. In fact, he insists that you are to be the example of Christ’s love to the world. Big responsibility! How to accomplish such a big task?
Give yourself up for her. This is not to be a dysfunctional, codependent relationship where you give everything and receive nothin. Then again, your giving should not be predicated on what you receive from your wife, but rather what you have received from Christ—perfect love. Work hard to provide for her; even when you are tired, give back to her, helping with the small things and the big things so that she can be the best herself. Give her confidence that you are with her for the long haul, not just until something better comes along.
To make her holy, cleansing her . . . Do you pray for your wife? Do you lift her up to God and ask how you can love her better? Do you ask God to help her in her struggles and to provide good friends who can lift her spirits? If you wife is not a believer, do you live your life in front of her so that she can see God’s grace or do you continually remind her that she is going to hell?
Paul goes on in verse 28 to tell men that they should love their wives as themselves, as their own bodies. First, I suppose, you ought to look at how you love yourself. Are you gluttonous? Do you drink (alcohol) too much? Are you sharply critical even of yourself? Don’t do that! Love yourself, and just as you feed and care for your body, you are to care for your wife. Make time for her to have relaxation. Give her positive feedback whenever possible. Let her know you love her just as you are reminded by the Word that God loves you. Pray together. Bring her to your Savior, even if she knows Him already. Make your home a place of grace and truth.
Do you want your wife to submit to you? Be the kind of man she can trust implicitly, the kind of man who she knows will protect her, pray for her, love her, work for her best interests. Be strong and gracious. Love her as you love yourself, and even better! You will find, when you give yourself for her, that she will fall in love with you all over again!
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
Greenfield, MO 65661